A federal judge ruled that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s decision to rescind protections for students defrauded by for-profit colleges should be reversed.
But, reports the New York Times, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss put the ruling on hold for 30 days, to give the Education Department time to respond.
Moss’s decision could drastically alter the department’s strategy. DeVos has taken numerous steps to ensure that for-profit colleges escape the consequences of fraud and false advertising, closing down Obama-era investigations and discarding rules termed ‘burdensome’ to the industry.
The lawsuit, writes Forbes.com, was originally filed in Washington, D.C. It alleges that DeVos ‘illegally delayed the implementation’ of a borrower defense rule, which offered easier loan forgiveness for students defrauded by for-profit schools.
Student advocates said the department’s policy was hastily implemented, put into effect without seeking public opinion or giving proper notice.
Along with calling DeVos’s freeze on protections illegal, Moss said the secretary’s new regulations need to be voided, too.
The lawsuit was supported by 19 state attorneys general, some of whom accused President Donald Trump and Secretary DeVos of trying to rip off vulnerable students.
“Today’s decision in federal court is a victory for every family defrauded by a predatory for-profit school and a total rejection of President Trump and Betsy DeVos’s agenda to cheat students and taxpayers,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey on Thursday.
Remarks like Healey’s have prompted the Education Department to declare its detractors as ‘ideologically driven.’ A spokeswoman for the agency said that “the state attorneys general are saying to regulate first, and ask the legal questions later.”
DeVos herself has condemned predatory for-profit colleges, though she’s simultaneously revoked regulations meant to protect Americans from their abuses.
“Fraud, especially fraud committed by a school, is simply unacceptable,” DeVos said in June. “Unfortunately, last year’s rulemaking effort missed an opportunity to get it right. The result is a muddled process that’s unfair to students and schools, and puts taxpayers on the hook for significant costs.”
Secretary DeVos says she’d rather create a system which protects students and gives for-profit schools an opportunity to succeed within the law’s limit.
Under DeVos’s leadership, the Department of Education has hired a multitude of former for-profit counselors and corporate officials into its senior ranks. Some have refused to recuse themselves from positions which might create a conflict of interest. Liberal critics have called DeVos a ‘swamp monster’ intent on foisting private interests over public good.
Judge Moss’s ruling restores a semblance of reason to the department, which didn’t offer any public comment.
Toby Merrill, director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard University, which is representing the plaintiffs, praised Moss for making the right move.
“Students are continuing to push back and win against the department’s unfair and corrupt policies,” Merrill said. “We are one step closer to these important provisions taking effect.”